The Selector’s Selections: August 2023

For this month’s theme, I’ve got all graphic novels! I know that the school year has already started for a lot of people. Maybe it seems too daunting to tackle that 500-page novel you’ve been eyeing, but graphic novels are the perfect size book to squeeze in between all of the syllabus introductions.

The Bodyguard Unit coverThe Bodyguard Unit” by Clément Xavier, Lisa Lugrin, Albertine Ralenti and translated by Edward Gauvin

First up is a graphic nonfiction about British suffragettes who were trained in jujitsu! You knew we have a graphic nonfiction section, right? It’s right next to the YA graphic novels, and the books cover a wide variety of topics. This one 100% sent me down a Wikipedia rabbit hole, in the best way possible. Edith Garrud was England’s first female jujitsu teacher, and she was passionate about teaching women self-defense. She and her husband were giving women tools to protect themselves both in the streets and in their homes, at the same time as the British suffrage movement was reaching a crescendo. Women fighting for the vote often faced violent arrests and beatings, and Edith was invited to teach them martial arts. Dubbed “jujutsuffragettes” by the media, and calling themselves the Bodyguard Unit, these women defended each other and their leaders. Never fear that this nonfiction book will be boring, there are plenty of action scenes!

The Infinity Particle coverThe Infinity Particle” by Wendy Xu

Let’s move from historical to speculative fiction. This graphic novel is a romance set amidst Artificial Intelligence research on Mars. Clementine Chang is a scientist who leaves Earth partly to escape her past, and partly to study robotics at a prestigious university on Mars where her idol, Dr. Marcella Lin, has a lab. Clem meets Dr. Lin and her famous AI build named Kye, and is instantly impressed. Kye is Dr. Lin’s personal assistant and data processor, and looks more like a human man than a robot. As the two work together, they become closer and closer, which both concerns and infuriates Dr. Lin. Kye’s programming includes firewalls and strange inconsistencies that seem to be hiding something, and Clem and Kye are determined to find the answers that Dr. Lin is unwilling to provide. In many ways a good, old-fashioned sci-fi that addresses questions of ethics and what it means to be human, this graphic novel will also appeal to readers looking for a good romance.

The Hills of Estrella Roja coverThe Hills of Estrella Roja” by Ashley Robin Franklin

We’ll finish off with a queer, paranormal story exploring Latinx folklore. Kat has a podcast called “Paranormal Texas” and hears about a small town with strange occurrences and mysterious red stars over the hills at night. She changes her Spring Break plans and sets off to Estrella Roja to investigate, but is met by close-mouthed and unfriendly townsfolk. Meanwhile, Mari has to return to Estrella Roja with her family to attend her abuela’s funeral, even though they haven’t interacted with their family in years. Mari’s family is nearly as unhappy to see her as they are Kat, and the two girls meet at the local diner and bond about their reception in the town. Soon Mari is helping Kat with her investigation, and as they grow closer to each other, they also grow closer to uncovering town secrets that are much safer left hidden. Horror with just the right amount of camp, this is perfect for “Lumberjanes” fans looking for their next read.